The great West Coast hook debacle

As some may know I’m on the west coast in Vancouver for work. Things have been going well so far but, I figured I need some extra enertainment cause I won’t be able to cut loose due to shifts that start early and end late.

During the packing process I packed all my material and tools to tie some flys. When we got here I figured I would get everything ready and lay everything out. Here’s the thing though. I didn’t pack my box of hooks. Great.

I called down to the front desk to see what I could find out. They told me they would get back to me. At this point I didn’t think they would, but about ten minutes later I recieved word that they found a spot and they had a print out of a map and an info sheet. I grabbed it on they way out for dinner.

The place in question, was not far away. Mere minutes if the correct route was taken. However there’s no reason to go over there and I always left the work site after the store shut.

Yesterday was different. And my route back from a pickup was going right by there. I pumped the meter and went in. The store was sweet and after little effort I found the hooks I needed.

Didn’t have time to do any last night but when I was brushing my teeth I remembered. I had hooks. They were taped to the cd that came with the kit I bought off eBay.

Remember what you’re packing…

Cheers,

Tom

Hike through lighthouse park in Vancouver

So I’m in Vancouver till about the fifth of May for a work thing. The good thing is I can still update my blog through email!

My uncle Ron and I had a few hours to kill before a site meeting so he took me to see what West Vancouver is like. Imagine huge houses perched on hills overlooking the sea, marinas packed with beautiful sailboats and giant trees and that’s what it’s like. We went for a short hike through lighthouse park. Which is really just like Stanley park but there’s a lighthouse and it’s in West Vancouver. It was awesome though, and I got some cool photos. So watch for those in early may.

After that we headed to Horseshoe Bay, took a look around, and had some lunch.

Vancouver is great when it’s sunny. It rained today with a bit of a breeze. I didn’t like that, but the locals didn’t even seem to notice.

I take comfort in the fact that if it snowed I’d be fine though!

Cheers,

-Tom

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Paddle update!

 
Got a bit excited tonight and was feeling like I could get some work done on the paddle. I headed over and rented a belt sander from home depot and just tried it out. Things went pretty good but I’m not moving enough material at this point. I’m going to try to track down a drawknife again and failing that I’ll just bit the bullet and buy one.
Here’s the only picture that would really show anything. But you can see what’s happening.

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To get that rounded shape I want I’ll have to get the drawknife and remove wood in strips. When I get to that stage I’ll either rent another sander with a fine grit sandpaper on it to make it smooth, or sand it by hand with progressively finer sand paper.

Cheers!

Weekend Hike In Banff

Hey folks, hope you’re enjoying the weather wherever you may be.

This weekend was sunny in Edmonton, Calgary and Banff from what I understand. I headed down to Calgary with my girlfriend Megan to see some friends, go for a hike and generally just to get out of the city. Now usually we would hit the slopes near Banff, but since the weather is getting warmer we decided to do a kick ass hike. I figured we would have the day so we could hike Johnson canyon just outside Banff. I did it back when I was a kid and it was fun then, but this time I wanted to check out the Ink Pots because I hear they are very cool. I checked the net and it ended up being about a 12 km round trip. I didn’t really remember how the trail was so I phoned the park office for some info. They said it was still pretty slippery with some snow but for the most part it would be pretty good to hike this weekend. She did mention that if we wanted to, we could rent some ice cleats for around 5 bucks. Being a rugged Albertan, I decided to forgo this expense. And being a curler I also figured a bit of ice would be no problem, no matter how slippery or steep it may be.

For anyone who has not been to the canyon it’s awesome. It’s very accessible with lots to look at. The trail follows the west wall of the canyon at various depths in the canyon. There is a gift shop and place to get ice cream at the trailhead as well as cabins that I’m sure you can rent for periods of time. The options for the hike are to the lower falls, the upper falls and then onto the Ink Pots. Distances are roughly, one kilometer from the trailhead to the lower falls, the upper falls are about 2.5-3 kms past that and the inkpots are another 3.5 kms past that. If you’re traveling with a group or people who don’t really hike, the upper falls are a good destination for you. For those who want to spend more time and get away from the crowds it’s recommended to take the extra leap and head to the Ink Pots.

We ended up getting a later start than I thought we would and started out around quarter to four. As a group we decided to not go to the ink pots. This was a little bit of a let down, but after we did the hike I found it was all I really needed to do. We encountered a few groups of people but for the most part it was pretty much just us on the trail. My friends Ryan and Dominika mentioned that when they did the hike last summer the trail was packed with people, their kids, dogs, and strollers and was not as fun as this trip. There were a few very slipper sections but we managed to get through them unscathed on account of the railing separating the trail from the canyon. We all decided after little deliberation that if you want to beat the crowds the best time to see the canyon was in the spring.

We got to the lower falls and snapped a few pictures; there is a little bridge that takes you to the other side. On the other side is a cool little cut out in the rock where you can go through to a look out and see the falls close up. There were five of us and another family in there, had it been any busier you would have had to wait to take a look or abandoned it all together. I’m glad we got to take a look.

After that it was onto the upper falls, this was a bit of a long haul with a mix of terrain, views and temperatures. The weather report said it was supposed to be about 17 degrees and had a chance of thunder showers. We got lucky and didn’t get rained on until we were on our way back to town. The section between the upper and lower falls was my favorite, you really get away from the walkways and start to wind through the forest, and in a few places there are no railings at all. When we got to the upper falls there is an opportunity to view from both the top and the bottom. After we checked it out from the bottom we headed back. It was already late in the day, and it didn’t help that we were talking about dinner the whole time either!

I was content with this first hike of the season. It was about the right length and I got some good photos. For this hike I recommend you go early in the season to beat the crowds. I wore a t-shirt and was fine, but I did have a good fleece packed, if the weather changed. Wear some decent shoes because it’s a lot of up and down hills. Bring a camera, there are some killer views. Pack a snack and at least a liter of water. If you want to take a look at the Ink Pots, everywhere I looked said it’s a half day hike. If you’re only going to the upper falls you need a few hours. Make sure you go with a group, its better! 

On a side note…

On the way home from Calgary I stopped in at bass pro shops. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – this place is intense. Everything you can imagine of seeing on the side of the road or in a magazine is there and it’s stuffed. The sheer amount of things that have been killed and stuffed is mind boggling! Picked up a new Redington Red Fly 2 reel for my fly rod and purchased some chest waders as well. Megan and I ended up checking out some of the rest of the mall as well. Picked up a book called “the Fly Tying-Bible” which has 100 of the deadliest trout and salmon patterns ever so keep an eye out for that!

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Projects I’m working on

A long time ago in galaxy far far away…

Wait a minute that was another story.

So back in the day when I was involved in scouting, we went on a great canoe trip on the North Saskatchewan River. The route was from the Genese bridge to Edmonton. I remember it being a total blast, so last summer I pitched the idea to some of my friends and we went on a weekend in June. Things were a lot different this time; we took kayaks, which was way more fun. Watch for that adventure and pictures when we do this trip from further up the river in mid-June.

When we go back from the original trip, I looked through my scouting book and found a project that you could do to earn a badge. The project was to make a paddle to canoe with. All the info was pretty straight forward. Get a board of a certain wood (there were a few options listed). Trace a pattern, and cut it out, and then shape to you’re desired dimensions before putting some varnish on.

So that Christmas my folks forked out and gave me a plank of Black Cherry wood. It was listed as being easy to work with, but light and strong at the same time. My dad said it cost about $60 bucks, I can’t imagine what it would cost now being as nice as it is. I was pretty pumped, and when you’re pumped on something you generally start working on it straight away. But, being winter I had other priorities, like snowboarding, so I opted to start it in the spring.

So spring has sprung its getting warm out and I dig the old Black Cherry plank, with paddle sketch on it, out of the garage. Here’s the catch. Its ten years later… and I never thought I was a procrastinator!

My first obstacle was to find the proper saw, the wood is really dense so I didn’t want to burn out the old skill saw we have. I sent a message out looking for a band saw. I had used them back in shop class as well as when I did a stint as a butcher so I figured it would be a good choice to get it done with quick and clean cuts.

One of my good buddies Tristan, contacted me saying he had one so I went over there tonight. After we got it all set up he went in to make a killer Po-Boy sandwich while I made the cuts. Here is a shot after the first few cuts

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Things went pretty well, except for a small screw up at the top near the handle. Here is what I ended up with after cutting as much as I need to.

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Next step is to start shaping. Right now the handle is rectangular and the blade of the paddle has a long way to go until its ready to push water. Once I track down the proper tools for planning and shaping the handle I’ll post another update so keep your eyes peeled.

Another project I’m working on which is more of a work in progress is fly tying. Last update was all about the Anchor worm.

I was bored on Friday so I looked at what I had and ended up struggling through what’s called a Royal Wulff. I just used what I had which started with a giant #4 2xl hook and some synthetic fiber for the wings. I had to borrow some hackle from Logan, so I finished it Saturday afternoon when we met up. Check it out, my giant Royal Wulff in all its glory!

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After that little triumph Logan gave me a few tips and showed me a few tricks. We ended up tying a few Pheasant tails. Here is what I ended up with on my second try.

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So that’s what I’m working on right now in addition to my 9-5 and other gigs, I’ll keep you posted and let me know what your working on too!

Cheers

-Tom

Becoming a master fly tier

So this title is a bit misleading, because I’m just starting to learn this part of the sport of fly fishing. I called Shaun over on Thursday to tie some flys, or atleast attempt too. I bribed him with beer so it wouldn’t be a total loss if nothing got done but I tied a few and Shaun did too. The pattern I was working on was right out of a magazine called Fly Fusion I got for my birthday. Evidently its an Alberta publication! I liked it before I even opened it. When I did I could tell they didn’t skimp on the printing costs, judging by the glossy pages. It was awesome when I opened it, they had some great articles and a few fly patterns with easy to read instructions. I picked the Acetone Anchor Worm pattern.

I ended up tying two that night, and just finished my second two off tonight. The author of the article, Jeremy Davies, said play around a bit with tone and colour. I tried a few things myself. Here is my first one.

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It was my first so I didn’t have a great idea of what I was doing, I didn’t go as far down the shank as I should have according to the book and when I was wrapping my lead around the shank I ran out and it just got messy.

My second fly was coming along nicely and then I got some acetone on the tail which is acetone floss and it fell off all together.

Today I dipped my flys so this would not happen again, I did run into the same problem as before with running out of lead but my wrap is getting much tighter and I’m sure I’ll be able to judge proper length on the next one. Another mystery that baffled me was how to tie the acetone thread off. I did a whip finish at the end of my last one but it looks like there are alot of left over threads that are just wild, and then there is the red wire!

Here are my four finished flys, the top two are my first and second from Thursday and the bottom two are the ones from today.

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This is the last one I tied tonight. In the closeup you can see the mess of floss near the bead head and the stray red wire.

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Practice makes perfect I guess!

Biking Season is here and its muddy!

This weekend was really the weekend in Edmonton to go biking. Riding in the spring is just like riding in the fall but instead of being dry with all the leaves falling, it’s wet, mucky, soupy and super fun. Being the Easter weekend I had the day off work on Friday and the plan was to hit the trails for some mid afternoon hot-doggin’. Braden and Victor came over around 2:30 and I pulled out my Top-of-the-Line Trek from 10 years ago. After the initial panic of seeing flat tires and having someone move my bike pump subsided, we were on the road and pulling wheelies all the way to the Mill Creek Ravine.

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Now the thing about Edmonton is that it will surprise you. Our river valley is the largest green space in North America! However, only part of the population has any idea that there are so many adventures to be had that don’t include going to West Edmonton Mall. I find it surprising and a bit disturbing that when you meet people when you’re traveling a common question is if you go to the mall. Bore me to death. That is the last place I wanna be whatever the weather is. This day happened to be just gorgeous. The sun was shining with minimal cloud cover, so it was about 16 degrees Celsius out.

This was my first day out and it was almost perfect. We had a good mix of single track, downhills, some paved and gravel as well as those dreaded up-hills. I realized a few things on this ride. The first was that I was having a blast and wondered why I stopped biking for a while. The second was that I needed to take the old VRX 400 in to get my drive train worked on (I’m missing some gears due to stretched cables). The third was more immediate, I’m out of shape, big time. All those lunches out and late night pints have caught up to me… So I hashed out a plan while trying to catch the boys. Keep up on the biking and I’ll get back in shape in no time. This supplemented with some extra activity here and there should also speed things along. I have also started taking a lunch. This will, in turn, have me eating better and saving a minimum of 200 bucks a month. What could you do with 200 extra dollars?

After about an hour I was gassed, we crested a hill that looks out onto downtown and I told the boys I was going break off from them and head home at the next fork. I was surprised when they didn’t rag on me about it, and when we got to the next fork I dropped in with them. We all rode for awhile longer, although they did loose me on this great little single track near the Kinsmen field house.

Saturday was another great day from what I hear. I was pulled away to Vancouver for the day (tough life I know) on a work commitment so no biking. The weather there was a bit windy, really grey and kinda cloudy. Vic and I exchanged a few texts during the day, and planned a ride for Sunday around the same time. Braden’s Brother Devon was in town so he was going Quadding “depending on Devon’s hangover” and thus would not be joining us. When I brought my bike out of the basement they next day I walked into a conversation about falling off your bike, and Victor saying that “If you don’t fall off, you’re not trying hard enough”. I told him that was rubbish.

As if it were an omen from the gods themselves, I had a spectacular wipeout about 40 minutes in. Initially we rode down from where I live to a place called skunk hollow. It’s a total paradise in there, and really technical. Lots of roots, ups, downs, switchbacks, drops, and all single track. I showed Vic a few trails he had not previously known about which were really fun, so that was cool for him. From here he took me over to the Canada Cup course near Kinsmen.

When we got there it was still pretty snowy due to the fact it’s in the shadow of the hill it was on, so we went on. We started to pedal towards Emily Murphy Park and took a branch of single trail that had a couple of fallen pines blocking it. I passed Vic on an uphill where his tire slide on a root and kept going. This is where things got fun. The downhill was pretty sweet, it had loads of roots and it was really quick considering the pitch. So I ripped up to this big tree that had some decent sized roots on it, only to discover there was nothing for about 3 feet on the other side. I lost my nerve and grabbed my front brake. Think about those movies where a dude is riding a horse and the horse stops but the guy keeps going. That was me.

At this point I knew I was going over the bars. I’ve never really had that slow motion feeling before but I can tell you that it’s like watching a car crash happen. On one hand it’s very cool, but on the other hand the impending doom and possible carnage is frightening. It seemed like an eternity for my back wheel to come up and my body to go forwards. When I did hit the ground that’s where the fun stated. I’m not sure how many times I rolled but I ended up pretty much at the bottom of the hill. When I looked up my bike was about 20 feet behind me pretty much right where I had dismounted. I was scraped and bruised in a few spots but was less worried with my well being than if my phone had survived – go figure. iPhone intact, Victor Congratulated me on how awesome my crash looked and after a bit of discussion we classified it as a proper “Ass-Over Tea-Kettle wipeout.”

Our collective wish is that we had Blair Trigg’s helmet cam to record it. I’ll try to get my hands on that footage and uploaded it on the YouTube channel

We rode for a bit longer then headed home, I had Sunday dinner waiting and being a little banged up helped end this tale.

And now that I got my big crash out of the way…